Smooth transition

Smooth transition

When the Patriots signed linebackers coach Jerod Mayo to a contract extension last year, they included legal wording on a succession plan that effectively fast-tracks his ascent to the head coaching job should the opportunity arise. They promptly communicated the provisions to the National Football League to ensure that they do not run afoul of the Rooney Rule — which would otherwise require them to open the selection process to at least two minority candidates — in such a case.

Needless to say, the Patriots wanted to cover the bases right then and there. Mayo was well-liked by stakeholders. He showed that he possessed the skill set required for mentorship in the sidelines even when he still played for them, and he displayed them with confidence once he was tapped to join Bill Belichick’s staff in 2019. So when he was eligible for a new deal, they pulled out all the stops and made him feel wanted with language that underscored his place in the hierarchy. And it was no coincidence that he didn’t bother to entertain interview offers for openings elsewhere.

Not that the Patriots were angling for Mayo to replace Belichick. They may have had a bench tactician in waiting, but they held out hope that the sport’s best of all time still had some magic left to weave. They just wanted to be certain that if he didn’t, everything was already in place for a smooth transition. Which was just fine for critics who believed change to be long in coming. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2018, all they’ve had to show are two wild card losses and three early flameouts off an abhorrent 43% win percentage.

And so Mayo has the Conn of a ship in need of righting, and fast. And while he comes with a healthy dose of goodwill, he likewise knows he bears the weight of great expectations. Unrealistic? Of course. Having been with the Patriots in various capacities for the better parts of two decades, however, he knows the lay of the land. As if it isn’t already bad enough that he just replaced a legend. If nothing else, though, he’s prepared for the challenge. Early last year, he had been telling all and sundry of his readiness. It’s now time for him to show that he can walk the talk.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and human resources management, corporate communications, and business development.